Thursday, 25 April 2013

Privacy: Artificial Barriers of a different sort.

The Telegraph has an interesting article here highlighting negative implications of the Data Communications Bill not only for citizens, but also businesses. If successful, this requires any internet based company in the UK to develop and staff a system where all data on their customers is collected, stored in a standardised format, and potentially available via automated access. The business does not have any oversight of the data leaving their systems. 

In The Mood of Information and my forthcoming Deconstructing Privacy (2014) with Peter Lang I have described privacy as being negatively framed as an artificial barrier for many businesses. This derives from Richard Posner and his bald claim in the Economics of Justice that privacy is a bad thing because it inhibits economic growth (this also goes back to Bentham and his take on utilitarianism). In the case of the Data Communications Bill we see a twist to this narrative because it is governmental data gathering that may block economic growth and possibly kill-off smaller businesses unable to comply. This is a real threat here in Wales. As the article depicts, online businesses count for 8.2% of the UK's GDP and such strictures place the UK at a disadvantage as a place for internet start-ups to flourish because of the high costs and regulation placed on the nature of data collected (possibly more and of a different sort than the start-up envisaged).

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I am director of the Media and Persuasive Communication (MPC) network at Bangor University where I also lecture on political-economy of the media. I am currently working on a book provisionally titled Deconstructing Privacy for Peter Lang and leading two empirical projects in connection with privacy perception and the use of new media for smoking cessation. I am author of Creativity and Advertising: Affect, Events and Process (Routledge, 2013); The Mood of Information: A Critique of Behavioural Advertising (Continuum, 2011); and Digital Advertising (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2009). Please contact me at if you are interested in Ph.D supervision or consultancy services.